Happy 4th of July! Remember freedom does not come cheaply. It comes by the providence of God, so offer a prayer for our country today (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Money Can Muzzle The Word
[In a previous post I offered a passionate plea for us to restore our devotion to God’s word. In subsequent articles I’ve tried understand why our affection for God’s word grows cold. I believe it has something to do with our desire to be accepted (“I want people to know me.” Or “I want people to like me.”). After much observation and study I’ve come to the conclusion it also has something to do with our passion for possessions and the pleasures they provide. The more things we have to distract the eye; the more difficult it is to see the truth.]
Nobody wants to read this article. I don’t particularly enjoy writing it. You see, it’s about money. The only time we really like to read about money is to learn how to make it, spend it, or save it. Yet, as you search the pages of Scripture and history you find the disturbing fact that truth has often been sacrificed on the altar to possessions.
Truth is distorted when viewed through the lens of prosperity. There is a reason why the wealthy Sadducees of Jesus’ day were considered theological liberals. They had little use for the resurrection of the body because they had so many comforts on earth (Mark 12:18). Why sing of heaven when your retirement is fully funded?
There is nothing that impairs spiritual vision quite like greed. A few silver coins seemed to be sufficient justification for Judas to participate in the murder of Jesus. Our love of things doesn’t always lead to such dramatic sins, but it has a persistent way of causing us to compromise Biblical truth.
In the early days of the church Paul wrote, “The love of money…has caused some to stray from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:8). The tales of the corrupting influence of money on the beliefs of God’s people are told afresh in every generation. A study of “church history” will reveal that nearly every division was fueled by financial concerns.
The problem is that wealth tends to make us blind to our true, spiritual condition. For example, the believers in Laodicea felt like they were “rich, wealthy and in need of nothing,” but had no idea they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17-18). The rich, young ruler thought he kept the commands of God from his youth, but Jesus points one finger at all his stuff to show him he had not even gotten past the first commandment without sin (Luke 19:22-23). Oh, possessions have a way of skewing reality. No wonder Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24).
What then can we do to keep our money from muzzling God’s word? Try these two exercises regularly.
Give Up A Physical Pleasure For A Godly Work. Some of us need to remind our affections who’s in charge here, because our pleasures are sailing the ship! We need to reach out and say, “I’m not just living for the next thing that thrills my senses. I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10).
So discipline your affections by giving up that movie night in order to take a widow out to dinner. Take the money you would have spent on that vacation and send a young man to Africa to teach the gospel for two weeks. You know what pleasures entice your affections. They are probably good and fun things, but if you don’t take action today to put them in their place they will weaken your devotion to God. By the way, any work you do for the Lord will be remembered for eternity (Heb. 6:10), but the pleasures you pursue will probably be forgotten tomorrow except for the hole they leave in your bank account!
Give Up The Possessions That Enslave You. Every possession we have has a little voice inside it crying out to us day and night, “Clean me. Fix me. Dust me. Hold me. Feed me. Paint me. Charge me. Change me. Carry me. Wash me….” Just look around your house. The demands are endless, and they will not be satisfied until you become their slave. It is inevitable that what you own will end up owning you, unless you take charge and say, “I don’t want that anymore!” and toss it out.
We all remember the advice Jesus gave the rich, young ruler, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22). We say Jesus made such a steep demand because He knew the man’s heart was materialistic. Evidently that young man is the only person who ever had a problem with loving things, because I rarely hear of someone downsizing their lifestyle for the good of their soul and the work of the kingdom. Perhaps it is time make a statement that your things don’t own you, and you can only really do that by giving them up.
Doctrinal departures from the truth have always been greased by our affection for things. The same will happen to us unless we go on the offensive and submit our pleasures and possessions to the Lordship of Christ. There is no following Jesus without surrendering. I’m excited to see what we can do in the kingdom when we are willing to let go of this world.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. … For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed? (Luke 9:23,25).
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)
A Song: I Believe In Jesus (Favorite Hymns Quartet)
This is one of those songs where each phrase is rich with meaning! Used with permission. You can find more great worship songs like this at: http://www.rjstevensmusic.com/
Two Resources About Discipleship & Money
A Sermon: Learn To Share (A study of koinonia)
Be kind with the grammar and spelling in this sermon. I didn’t take the time to make it publish ready, but maybe there’s something there that can help you.
A Bible Study: You Can Never Have Enough
This is a lesson in a series called, “Seeing Through The Devil’s Deception.” It has thought questions and exercises throughout the study.